Blog Tour and Book Review: The Spark by Jules Wake
Jess is falling for Sam.
Sam is falling for Jess.
But it seems life will do whatever it takes to make them fall apart.
When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.
Is love at first sight enough?
Before I tell you how much I like this book and why, I’m going to have an enraged little rant about the TERRIBLE strategy British publishers are following at the moment of labelling all contemporary romance or even women’s fiction as ‘rom-coms’. Just STOP IT. This is a great story, but you’re absolutely doing it a disservice by selling it as ‘funny rom-com’. Readers are going to be disappointed because the book isn’t going to live up to the promise. Not every book has to be Bridget Jones or Shopaholic in order to sell to a modern British audience.
The Spark is realistic, charming, poignant, at times a little painful. It isn’t in any way a comedy, not even at the wedding of Jess’s charmingly bonkers aunt. It’s about how sometimes relationships end just because they’re not working any more. About how new ones can be derailed by exes who don’t want to let go and family who had set their hearts on a particular outcome.
Jess and Sam meet at a casual party at Jess’s aunt’s house, and there’s a spark between them right away. Sam, obviously trying to do the right thing, immediately admits he’s in a relationship and Jess, horrified at the idea of being the ‘other woman’, backs off. Just meeting Jess causes Sam to rethink where his relationship is going, though, and he realises fairly quickly that his girlfriend Victoria isn’t making him happy. Breaking up isn’t simple, however, because Victoria had their future all nicely mapped out and has no intention of going quietly. Even though Sam leaves it a month before even reaching out to Jess, Victoria is determined to do her best to sabotage them.
Jess and Sam are both deeply compassionate people with a lot in common. Sam’s a special-needs teacher, Jess works at a womens’ shelter. From the start, they just ‘click’ together - there’s a cute analogy with some LEGO bricks - and really, the only conflict in their relationship comes from outside forces. Jess spends a lot of time doing conflict-avoidance, but there’s one terrific scene near the end where she has finally Had Enough of Victoria’s nonsense and steps up to speak her mind. I’d wondered why Sam hadn’t put his foot down earlier, but realistically, he was in an impossible situation. With his own family and friends preferring to take Victoria’s side over his, and Victoria a supremely entitled little madam with apparently no sense of boundaries whatsoever, his hands were tied.
There’s an interesting moral here about not judging people without knowing the full situation. From the outside, Jess could look like the ‘other woman’ who ruined a good relationship, but we are ‘in’ the situation with Sam and Jess, we can see that’s not what happened, despite Victoria’s best efforts to sell it that way and paint herself as the wronged woman. Sometimes relationships just don’t work out. Sometimes they haven’t actually officially ended when one of the parties falls for someone else. That doesn’t make it all the newcomer’s fault when things finally end.
This is a great read, with truly likeable and realistic characters and situations… but it’s not a blasted rom-com, and I very much would like British publishing to stop trying to shove everything into the rom-com pigeonhole, thank you. I’ll rate the book five stars for the enjoyment I actually got out of it, but if I’d picked this up craving a laugh-out-loud rom-com I’d be sorely disappointed… and that would be entirely the fault of the marketing department who are selling it as such. Take note. Readers don’t like being misled by the advertising.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources.
Author Bio –
Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her creative writing skills.
She writes best-selling warm-hearted romantic contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year 2019 with Notting Hill in the Snow.
Under her pen name Julie Caplin, she also writes the warm and witty Romantic Escapes series.
Between them, the two Js have written sixteen novels, The Spark being the latest.
Social Media Links – @Juleswake Twitter